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Harvest Hoedown rakes in a big crowd

October 15, 2006|by DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN - Struggling with a scarecrow that was considerably bigger than him, James Willis carried the straw man through the crowd at Saturday's sixth annual Harvest Hoedown at Fairgrounds Park.

James was among hundreds of children, parents and grandparents who joined a very long line to pick out clothing donated by the Salvation Army and to tear through bales of straw, enough of each for about 500 scarecrows, said Kristen Sauter of Greencastle, Pa.

Sauter and other members of the American Criminal Justice Association at Hagerstown Community College helped stuff and tie off the pants legs and sleeves of the scarecrows as gusty winds blew straw about the field.

A short distance away, a baby pig wearing a sweater was getting a lot of attention from the smaller set at a petting zoo.

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"I want to pet him," said Abby Welling, 4, of Smithsburg. The pig remained placid as Abby, her 2-year-old sister, Megan, and others circled the animal.

Singer Tom Donaldson crooned the George Jones classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today," backed by the CSA Jamboree Band, one of several performers to take the stage at the park. A string of other vocalists joined the band to perform a list of country classics.

"We're starting to get people more aware of Fairgrounds Park," said Karen Giffin, the City of Hagerstown's director of community affairs, as she helped hand out pumpkins and apples to another long line of children and adults.

Scores of other parents and youngsters waited in other lines for rides on hay wagons and on a train made of barrels on wheels.

Sovereign Bank, the Maryland Apple Promotion Board and Antietam Cable Television/AMC Monsterfest joined the city in sponsoring this year's hoedown, Giffin said.

Earlier in the day, 89 people participated in Fairgrounds 5K run and walk, Giffin said. Proceeds from the race, sponsored by the city and First Data Merchant Services, benefited the United Way of Washington County

While the afternoon hoedown drew a big crowd, the second annual Community Yard Sale pulled in a crowd Saturday morning, said Don Hovermale of Hagerstown.

"I bet there's been 3,000 people or more go by since 6:30 this morning," Hovermale said about noon.

"I've never seen more people than this," said Hovermale, who was selling equine figurines among other things.

The recycled bric-a-brac and knick-knacks of people's lives were on display in 72 outdoor stalls and a few others that were set up under the fairgrounds grandstands. A steady stream of people sifted through stacks and boxes of goods ranging from power tools and children's games to furniture and a well-worn pair of clown shoes.

"We needed to get rid of it, and it has been flying out of here," said Susie Sager Mason of Hagerstown. "We've sold hundreds of dollars of stuff."

"We figured we couldn't lose in a situation where there would be this many people," said Mason's fianc, Alan Crossley. They and their families and neighbors and friends of neighbors had joined together to clear out basements and attics for the sale.

"It's cleansing for me to get rid of these things," Mason said.

Hovermale said the heavy promotion of this year's events was the key to the big crowds.

"If you don't advertise, you don't draw anybody," he said.

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